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July 2016

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With reports on the dinghy and outboard from the Wanderer; from Rise and Shine on Sri Lanka; from Cirque in San Andreas in the Caribbean; from Quixotic on a rebuild in Fiji; from Abracadabra on the Pacific Coast of Honduras; from Migration in Thailand; a photo collage from Mahina Tiare in Norway;
and Cruise Notes.

The Dinghy And Outboard
The Wanderer
Equipment Appreciation
(The Caribbean and Mexico)

The Wanderer has been thinking a lot about the inflatables/outboards, because between February and the end of March this year, he and de Mallorca used one of theirs every day and every night. The inflatable being a seven-year-old 12-ft AB with a fiberglass floor; the outboard a Yamaha 15-hp two-stroke of about the same vintage.

The two words that come to mind for both of them are reliability and durability. Each season we make at least 90 round trips between our normal spot on the hook off Corossol and the inner dinghy dock in Gustavia. It's at least a mile each way, so that's a minimum of 180 miles each season. Over the course of seven years, that's about 1,200 miles that we alone have put on the combo.

During 6.5 of those years, our catamaran 'ti Profligate, with the dinghy/outboard, was regularly chartered by BVI Yacht Charters. We can only imagine how much use/abuse they endured during those charters.

Despite all the use, the combo has been the ultimate in reliability. The outboard has never once failed to start for us. In fact, after a couple of days of daily use, it rarely even takes a full pull to start. A half-pull — actually more of a flick of the wrist — is usually all it takes. And the inflatable has never sunk — although it's been completely filled several times by tropical downpours.

Reliability is critical for us at St. Barth, because we anchor farther out than all but a couple of megayachts. So if the engine didn't start and we had to hail a ride to shore, we'd probably have a long wait.

Reliability is even more critical when returning to the cat at night. For one thing, because of de Mallorca's social needs, we rarely return to the boat before 11 p.m. — if that early. If the engine were to conk out in the first half mile going back to the boat, we'd be fine, because the normally strong easterly trades would blow us down onto the boats on the western side of the channel.

The last half mile to the boat is a little more dicey, as the closest thing to the leeward of us would be Statia or Saba, both 30 lightly traveled miles to leeward.

While our inflatable/outboard combination has been so reliable, they look pretty bad. Some of the handles on the inflatable have worn/torn off, and the rub rail is pretty beat up. Worst of all is the top of the bow. That's because no matter if we're getting into and out of the inflatable, we jam the bow under the aft part of the cat's bridgedeck, where it's held in place by friction. That friction has worn away a lot of Hypalon.

The outboard cover is all scratched up and in general it looks as though it's had lots of use — which it has.

The beauty of the inflatable and the outboard's looking shabby is that they are less attractive to thieves. The thought of tying a spanking-new dinghy with a new outboard to the dinghy dock — even at St. Barth — would fill us with anxiety. As relatively unappealing as our combo is, we always lock our inflatable and engine — and the fuel tank, too. Both at the dinghy dock and when they're lying behind the boat.

As much as we like our current dinghy combination, we probably wouldn't buy it again. Since we've taken 'ti Profligate out of charter, a 10-ft inflatable is all we need. And despite our decades of great experience with Yamahas, experts tell us our Yamaha 15 is really just a 9.9-hp with different carburetion. It does seem to lack the oo mph of some other brands.

Much to our surprise, we've heard great things from both BVI Yacht Charters and one of our most respected sailing friends about Tohatsu brand outboards. That said, if we were going off the beaten path, we'd stay with a Yamaha because they are so ubiquitous, meaning parts tend to be more easily available.

With luck, we might not have to replace the outboard or the inflatable for a couple of years. That would be good, because neither of them is cheap. And we figure if we continue to praise them, they are likely to keep working.

Experts insist that dinghy operators start outboards before untying from a dock or boat. Much to de Mallorca's disgust, the Wanderer does just the opposite, believing that your engine knows if you don't have faith in it, and will sometimes be so insulted that it will refuse to start. So we always toss the painter off before trying to start the outboard — not that we recommend it to anyone who doesn't believe in animism.

— latitude/rs 06/15/2016

Rise and Shine — Ingrid 38 Ketch
Nick and Bonnie Pepper Nicolle
Sri Lanka

First, a little background. Rise and Shine left Southern California in the 1990s with Latitude's then-'Some Like it Hot' southern migration. Nick later put a 'Crew Wanted' ad in Latitude that friends of mine saw. Nick and I got in contact and decided to meet in Santa Cruz. I joined him aboard Rise and Shine in Tonga in 2006, and we were married in the Marshall Islands in 2009.

After the last four years of exploring the charms of Southeast Asia, China and Australia, it was time for us to move on. Our original plan, formulated long ago, was to visit South Africa. But which route should we take to get there? After research, and in recognition of the fact that we're not fast cruisers, Nick proposed taking two years to cross the Indian Ocean. Our first stop would be Trincomalee on the northeast coast of Sri Lanka, which only recently had been opened to cruising boats.

First we had to get visas. We got ours online using the website As US citizens, we paid $100 each for 30-day visas. We were also referred to the GAC agency to assist us in getting a 30-day permit for our boat. We provided all our information online in advance. Ravi, the GAC agent assigned to us, became our 'go-to' person while in 'Trinco'. There are a couple of other agencies, but GAC and Ravi came recommended.

We left the Krabi Boat Lagoon marina in Thailand on February 1, and arrived in Sri Lanka 12 days later. We had three days of calms to very light winds from the ENE the first three days, then a day of squalls from the northeast. After that the winds were east to east-northeast at five to 10 knots all the way to Trincomalee. We entered the harbor there in no wind and in flat water.

Trincomalee Harbor, which is guarded by two headlands and overlooked by terraced highlands, is the second largest natural harbor in the world. The entrance channel is 500 meters wide. One of the finest deep-sea harbors in the world, at different times Trincomalee has been controlled by the Portuguese, Dutch, French and British. It is now home to a large Sri Lankan naval base.

As we motored into the bay, we were immediately surrounded by naval patrol vessels going about their business of protecting the port. We radioed harbor control to alert them of our arrival, and a naval skiff was sent out to accompany us in to the Police Dock in the “Ancient” harbor where we would be processed by customs, immigration and the harbormaster. Customs kindly contacted our agent Ravi, who arrived promptly. Thanks to his help, everything was done in less than one hour.

We were then able to go anchor. The harbor has a level bottom about 25 feet deep with good holding in hard sand. And it's protected in all directions. There were only three other boats in the anchorage at the time, so there was plenty of room for the duration of our stay. The anchorage is in plain view of the navy base as well as the police jetty, so it doesn't get much more secure. There was also a place to tie up our dinghy for three weeks — ! — while we explored beautiful Sri Lanka.

Provisioning was no problem, as there is a well-stocked fruit and vegetable market within walking distance of the jetty, and Cargill's Food City, a western-style grocery store, is just a short tuk-tuk ride away. Even fuel was easy to get — and at a good price — by taking jerry cans to the gas station via tuk-tuk. Excellent laundry service was easy to find and inexpensive. Beer was the hardest thing to source, but it was available.

Sri Lanka is approximately the size of the state of West Virginia, which makes it easy to explore by bus, of which there are several levels of service, or trains. No matter if you want to take a bus or train, always get on early, as they fill quickly and are often standing-room-only. For shorter distances we'd either walk or tuk-tuk — but agree on a tuk-tuk price in advance!

Sri Lanka was known as Ceylon when it was a Crown Colony of Britain from 1882 until 1948. It was the Brits who built the roads and railroads to ship coffee and tea from the plantations to the ports — and to maintain military control.

Sri Lanka has a rich history and is mixed culturally. About 70% of the people are Buddhist, 12% are Hindu, 10% are Muslim, and 9% are Christian. There has been religious conflict, most recently in 2014 when the Buddhists went after the Muslims.

Different colonialists left various architectural styles, cultural rituals and government bureaucracy. The British left their language, which was a great help to us English-speaking travelers.

We took a six-hour bus to the city of Kandy, which was the last region of the island to hold out against the Portuguese, Dutch and, lastly, British occupations. It is situated in the highlands with a temperate climate. You can see Kandyan dancing, music and drumming performances nightly, and they are not to be missed.

Kandy is also home of the Temple of the Tooth, said to contain a relic of Buddha’s tooth, and thus a very important destination for pilgrims. The temple, which shared grounds with Kandyan royalty, is located along a scenic lake. The city has a colorful public market where spices are sold much as they were in the 8th century.

We then took a bus to Tissamaharama, entry point for safaris to Yala National Park on the southeast corner of the island. Sri Lanka has 22 national parks, but Yala has the greatest concentration of leopards in the world. We hired a jeep and driver for the entire day in hopes of seeing a leopard. Just before our lunch break we saw a gorgeous, sleek full-grown male leopard cross the road not 50 feet in front of us. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Yala National Park is also home to an abundance of other wildlife, such as elephants, monkeys, crocs, mongoose, wild boar, deer and a variety of birds. We saw them all — except for some of the birds.

Another highlight of Tissamaharama is its close proximity to the ancient town of Kataragama, a most holy and sacred site to Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims. We were fortunate enough to be there during the full moon, for in Sri Lanka every full moon is a holiday period for families and friends to come together and worship in their own religions.

What impressed us was that in nearby Kataragama, there is a huge ancient Buddhist stupa (dome), an ancient Hindu temple and a mosque — all on the same sacred site. Even the cows, monkeys and dogs got along, sharing the food left over from the offerings.

Full-moon prayers, or pooja, were held at the Hindu temple in the evening. It was all very exotic, with chanting, drumming, praying, incense burning and dancing, offerings proffered, and candles burning everywhere. Offerings consisted of various foodstuffs, coconuts, oil, fruits and flowers. We were entranced by all of it. It goes on all night, but good cruisers, we left at cruisers' midnight, which is 9 p.m.

— nick and bonnie 06/15/2016

Cirque — Beneteau First42s7
Louis Kruk and Various Friends
San Andreas Island, Colombia
(San Leandro)

For the last several years, during which time I've had my boat in the tropics of Central America, I've always returned to the Bay Area to find that spring was ending and summer was beginning. It seemed a little strange because I'd just spent five summer-like months in the tropics.

Last year I departed the Bay Area for my boat in Bocas del Toro, Panama, on December 14, and except for three weeks at home and five nights in Honolulu, I spent the entire time on Cirque in the southwestern Caribbean. During the course of the season I had the good fortune of having a total of nine friends along as guests/crew.

John and Linda Ryan of San Jose did the longest passage with me — 200 miles north to San Andreas Island. We arrived at 10 p,m,, so it was already dark. You never want to enter an unfamiliar harbor in the dark. On the other hand, I didn't want to spend the night sailing back and forth offshore, killing time waiting for daylight. So I piloted our way in and found a safe place to anchor.

When I woke up in the morning, I looked around and was shocked to see the remains of vessels — many of which had been skippered by professionals — wrecked on the reefs and aground in the shallow water. It was a veritable graveyard of rusting vessels!

It's a little odd that San Andreas is owned by Colombia, as it's 470 miles off the coast of Colombia yet just a little more than 100 miles off the coast of Nicaragua. Shaped like a seahorse, little San Andreas — just 10 square miles — has a smaller version of Oahu's famous Waikiki Beach. It even has a primitive version of Kalakaua Blvd.

San Andreas is quite different from Panama's Bocas del Toro archipelago, because although it's much smaller, it's a bustling tourist destination with lots of hotels and restaurants. Tourist-filled jets can be heard arriving and departing at all hours of the day.

There is a 20-mile road that circles the islands and offers views of many beautiful beaches, coral reefs, cays, geysers and coves. There is also La Laguna, a large freshwater pond, mangrove forests, and tall native trees. Surrounded by the warm Caribbean Sea, this lovely little island punches above its weight.

After a month at San Andreas, I needed crew for the return trip to Red Frog Marina in Panama. Fortunately, I'd become friends with Buddy Jedd, who was crewing on King Puffa, which was also headed to Bocas. After Puffa arrived in Bocas, Buddy, who has the same birthday as mine, flew back and helped me make the same trip with Cirque.

I did some more exploring of the Bocas del Toro archipelago with various other crew. In the company of Jim Forrest, Larry Anderson and Mike Raney, I explored some areas such as Laguna Bluefield and the Hanging Gardens that were new to me. We ended up doing some paddling in dugout canoes and then spent a lot of time snorkeling in the clear waters of the Caribbean.

While there, I was once again amazed to observe part of the process by which coconut palms propagate. The nut floats across the water and gets washed up onto a beach. At some point it takes root and begins a new tree. It tickles my heart to see a specimen in the growth process like that.

I always try to take my guests to Cayo Coral, where the indigenous lobster divers invariably seek us out at the end of their work day. The best deal we got this season was 14 lobsters for $20. That fed the four of us rather nicely. The local lobsters are 'slipper lobsters' because they have no claws. We removed the tails, prepped them, then dropped them onto the barbie. And yes, I keep butter aboard for such occasions.

I'm pretty secretive about my future cruising plans, so I hope I'm not giving too much away by reporting that my courtesy flags for Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Belize and Cuba just arrived in the mail.

I'll be spending some of September and October in Bocas del Toro, because it's especially nice there at that time of year. But my main Caribbean cruising season remains December thru early May, which is why I'm pretty much living as much of an 'Endless Summer' as Robert August and Mike Hynson did back when they starred in the famous surf movie.

— louis 05/25/2016

Quixotic — Voyager 43
Lewis Allen and Alyssa Alexopolous
Cat Restoration in Fiji
(Redwood City)

Quixotic, the 43-ft catamaran we bought in Fiji after she was holed and badly damaged by tropical cyclone Winston, is coming back to life as our A-team of Fijian fiberglass artists has charged ahead. She once again has bows, most of her topsides are enclosed, and the keels are prepped for glasswork.

Rotesh, the local welder, has straightened the bent crossbeam and reinforced some key areas with aluminum plate. It doesn’t look very pretty, but it’s functional. Rotesh is also fabricating stanchions for us using some of the old base plates and tubing brought in from elsewhere.

Naturally we need lots of other stuff that can't be found in Fiji. Alyssa flew to Australia last weekend to visit her sister and brought back a whole checked bag's worth of engine and saildrive spares, along with other crucial parts. The crew of the 150-ft superyacht Encore, on which we sailed in Hawaii, brought us the much-needed closed-cell foam core material that we're using to finish repairing the topsides.

Quixotic was built with holding tanks in her keels — one of the main reasons she got flooded in the hurricane. We'd feel much more comfortable knowing she'd be watertight with or without her keels, so we've decided to glass over the bottom of the port hull. In view of this, we've removed all the hoses and inspection ports, and will be laying glass over the bottom before attaching the new keel. We will also be filling the new keel with marine-grade foam flotation for extra insurance/buoyancy.

Our current schedule has us completing the major fiberglass work in two weeks. Then we transition to glasswork on the inside, followed by paint – inside and out.

June 1 Update: There has been a lot of fiberglass dust and toxic vapor at the work site, but there has also been lots of progress. The keel has been made from a mold of the repaired starboard side and now has five layers of quadraxial glass. Today we fit the stringers/bulkheads into the keel for extra strength and support. As for the port hull, thanks to the core material, it's almost flush with the surface and you can finally see her real shape again. We're getting excited.

In other news, we're preparing Ellie for a voyage out to the Lau Group with my mother and her husband. We plan to dive, fish, hike, explore, sail and relax. We will also be bringing some supplies and warm clothes to the villages because they find winter to be very cold even though the temps don't go below 70 degrees. The trip is going to be one of our last adventures with Ellie, as we've sold her to Kurt Roll of San Diego and his partner, who will be taking over soon.

— lewis and alyssa 06/01/2016

Abracadabra — CS36
Molly Arnold and Bryce Andrews
The Pacific Coast of Honduras
(San Francisco)

For anyone interested in off-the-beaten-path cruising on the way from California to Panama, we recommend the Pacific Coast of Honduras. Yes, there actually is a little bit of Honduras on the Pacific Coast. Honduras is not a 'Gringo Sailing Trail' destination, so you can become a minor sailing celebrity by just: 1) Being a foreigner, and 2) Being on a sailboat.

In Explore Central America – Part 1, the cruising 'bible' of Central America, authors Eric and Sherrell describe the Honduran island of El Tigre in the Golfo de Fonseca as “. . . a picture perfect base if you’re an evil genius or perhaps just a CIA operative.”

While we don’t think any James Bond-style evil geniuses ever used this island as a base, it was indeed used by the CIA. During the US government’s support for the right-wing militias (Contras) working to overthrow the democratically-elected Nicaraguan Sandinista government in the 1980s, there was a CIA observation /communications post at the top of the island.

We dropped the hook off the public pier at Isla Tigre's Amapala anchorage after an eight-mile trip from Isla Meanguera, El Salvador. We flagged down a lancha — the Central American term for panga — for a ride to shore. We signed in with the port captain and cleared immigration without trouble. We arranged for a guide, who was hanging out on the pier, to take us on a tour of the island the next day. We got some lempira — 20 to 1 US dollar — from the island's one ATM, and picked up a map from the tourist office.

Unusual news travels fast on El Tigre, so the tourist office people already knew we were from the sailboat. We bought some fruit from some street corner vendors, and a gallon of drinking water from the biggest store on the island — which also had couches, pairs of pants and other nonconsumables for sale. After a lancha trip back to the boat, we motored through the chop to the somewhat calmer Playa Grande anchorage on the west side of the island.

Confession and Travel Tip: Because it had been very windy and choppy when we arrived at Amapala, and because we feared that the rough surface of the local pier would have destroyed our dinghy, we decided it was prudent to hire a lancha. Unfortunately, we arrived without any lempira or small-denomination US currency. In addition, we mistakenly hired what turned out to be a stinky fishing lancha piloted by a not-fully-accredited 14-year-old. We paid $5 — our smallest bill — for the one-way trip, thinking that was better than having to take a return trip with him. The word quickly spread that some really stupid, crazy-rich gringos were in town.

We may have irreparably skewed the island’s lancha prices, because when we tried to hire a lancha to return us to Abracadabra, a real shouting match erupted on the pier. Everyone wanted a chance to make $5! To avoid grossly overpaying as we did, we recommend: 1) Bringing lempira or small-denomination US currency with you (although good luck finding lempira before you get to Honduras), or 2) Arriving on a calm day and deploying your own dinghy (don't forget fenders, as the town pier is very rough, and see recommendation #1 because you will likely want to tip someone offering to watch your dinghy).

We would spend three nights on the hook at Playa Grande. The anchorage was calm and the restaurants were closed at night, so our only evening entertainment was the singing and fiery sermon emanating from the evangelical church on the hill.

On our first morning, we took the dinghy to shore and had the perfect beach-landing experience — for people who hadn't made a beach landing since Acapulco in 2014. The surf was very gentle, and we were met by a fisherman/restaurant waiter who agreed to keep watch over the dinghy while we toured the island in Carlos’ moto-taxi.

On our second day, Bryce rowed the dinghy to shore and left Molly to face one of her deeply held cruising fears: a case of turista abetted by only marine plumbing. Her case turned out to be fairly mild and was soon corrected, but being left alone with her bottle of Pepto Bismol certainly made her recovery easier on both parties.

Bryce spent his afternoon trying to politely ignore the group of gangsta-looking guys who took over the restaurant he had chosen for his mega-seafood lunch. They were shocked when he told them he preferred Frank Sinatra to their rap music, and began to call him "Mistah". Everyone parted amicably, but we don't think they'll seek Bryce out for future social engagements.

Our island tour was a 12-mile drive along the road that circles the island. We began with a stop in Amapala, where we saw the primary municipal buildings, some of which were architecturally charming. From time to time our guide diverted from the main road to take us to a beach. A big component of his island tour was pointing out the different types of sand at the different beaches. We're sure a geologist would have found that portion of the tour fascinating.

We stopped for a very good fried-fish and fried-green-bananas lunch — don’t knock the green-banana thing unless you’ve tried it — at Playa Negra. The proprietress of the restaurant was kind enough to bring out the wooden-boxed mandolíne that the cook used to slice the bananas. It was more 19th-century Provençal than Williams-Sonoma.

We were disappointed to hear that neither the ruins of the CIA post at the top of the island nor the remains of the US-built heliport was part of the tour. Some tourist literature suggested that local trucks can drive to the top of the island, but Carlos told us that the only way to get there was to hike up the volcano. The tourist office map also showed access to the top of the mountain as a hiking trail, and it was clear that Carlos’ little moto-taxi wasn’t going to make it beyond the main ring road. So we resigned ourselves to not seeing the observation point ruins on that particular day.

The tourist office map didn't show the heliport location, and when asked about it, Carlos just waved vaguely toward . . . someplace. It didn't seem accessible to the public. In sum, his tour wasn’t everything we had hoped for, but we enjoyed the day.

As usual, our favorite part of the tour was the opportunity to learn about our guide. Carlos was happy to tell us about his work 'up there', aka the US. He did demolition work in Baltimore and cooking and roofing in Denver. He liked cooking best and thought Denver was very clean and beautiful. He and some friends are planning another trip 'up there' later in the spring. We hope he uses some of the money he makes to repair his moto-taxi’s transmission.

More next month.

— molly and bryce 05/15/2016

Migration — Cross 46 Trimaran
Bruce Balan and Alene Rice
The Miserable Refit, Part III

In October 2013, we flew out of Thailand to spend four months visiting family members and friends, many of whom we hadn't seen in years. We were disappointed that Migration hadn't been painted as scheduled before we left, but our painting contractor hadn't ordered the paint in time!

In Part I of this long report I'd said that doing our refit in Thailand was the worst decision of our cruising life — which started eight years and 36,000 miles before. And it's true. I've skimmed over the absolute misery we were in when Thai contractors were not doing what they promised; when Thai customs refused to release materials; when the tent was collapsing; when the rains nearly destroyed the work we'd done; and when every day presented an argument with Thai workers about the right way to do something or correcting something they'd done the wrong way.

"I hate Thailand," I would say to Alene during the bleakest of times.

“No you don’t," she'd respond wisely. "You hate doing boat work in Thailand.” And she was right.

Every Thai we met who wasn’t involved in the marine industry, or with whom we didn’t have business dealings, was delightful, fun and friendly. Phuket, being a major tourist destination, is somewhat ruined by tourism in the way most tourist destinations are — scammers ripping people off, inflated prices, etc. — but the normal Thai people are truly wonderful. We made many friends.

True to form, Thailand welcomed us back after four months with immediate surprises. The morning after our arrival, we found a snake in the bathroom. "Not poisonous," said the condominium guard. Still, we'd rather the snakes stayed outside. Which is where we put the one we found the following day hiding in our folding table.

Our next surprise was far more upsetting — the realization that Gig, our painting contractor, didn't know what he was doing. We'd already paid him for more work than he'd finished, so we figured if he gave us the paint we'd bought, we would release him from the contract and he would still come out ahead. When we finally got him to show up, he said that plan wouldn't work as he hadn't paid for the paint but had already spent the money! Like so many contractors in Thailand, he had overextended and was now in debt. He left town after refusing to return our $9,000 worth of paint.

After giving ourselves many solid kicks to the head for breaking a cardinal rule of contracts in Thailand — never pay for more than you've received — we hired Mr. Oh, the best painter on the island. We'd rejected him the year before because his quote was so high.

On the last day of February, Oh's four-man crew began to sand the boat. Oh, how we wished we'd hired Mr. Oh in the first place! The crew used black spray paint as an indicator so they'd make sure to sand the entire area before applying subsequent coats. This is definitely not the best way to do it, but try telling them that. But Oh's crew was great, and by the end of March Migration had been primed and sanded for the second time.

Since this was a total refit, we finally got around to checking Migration's rudder. The 46-year-old solid stainless shaft didn't look so good, and there was no way to check for crevice corrosion. We decided we'd better make a new rudder.

We drilled holes to calculate the thickness and made lots of measurements. We hired our friend Gram Schweikert to create the plans for a slightly modified design while we set about locating shaft material, as well as someone on the island who could lay up and vacuum bag the new blade.

In March, we helped our friends Jon and Sue launch Ocelot. They had finally finished their multi-year Thai refit ordeal.

Migration's red paint finally arrived in April. Within days we had gleaming bright red hulls. Well, almost. Unfortunately, there was a miscalculation when the paint was ordered, so there wasn't enough. So we couldn't finish the hulls before painting the deck. We had to cover the hulls to protect them. More wasted time and money.

The 12th military coup in Thai history took place on May 22. It was big news, but it didn't change much in our lives. There was a curfew for a period of time, but we were rarely out late anyway. Because Phuket survives on tourism, the curfew was lifted on the island long before in other parts of the country. After all, it would be crazy to try to stop those drunk Russian and Aussie tourists from going to the Patong sex shows.

What did change is that the new government cracked down on illegal buildings and businesses along the shorelines. This was most evident on the west coast of Phuket, where all the tourist beaches are. Even our little village wasn't immune, and brand-new structures that had been built in the time since we arrived were ordered to be dismantled. Some just rebuilt their structures across the street. Others had to leave what had been their permanent homes over the water.

Work on the deck continued throughout May. We never appreciated how big Migration's deck is until it came to prep it for nonskid. But by the end of May we had a freshly painted deck.

June marked the start of our second rainy season, which meant it was time for more tent problems. We had to have the supports rewelded and create a ridiculous ladder in order to constantly replace the wire ties that held up the side curtains as well as the lacing holding the top. I spent way too much time above the ground.

The last of the red paint arrived in July, and soon the hulls were finally done. That meant the rest of the work was left to Alene and me. We still had plenty of projects, and it was a much bigger job than we'd expected putting the boat back together. But it was a pleasure for just the two of us to work together and not have to supervise Thai workers.

We began by re-installing the ports and the new titanium forestay chainplates. Every step made us so happy — except when we made mistakes and had to clean up the extremely sticky butyl tape.

It was soon September, and our new rudder was coming along, although I still had to organize the delivery of the stock from Taiwan, the welding of the supports, and the construction and vacuum bagging of the blade. In the process, we noticed that the rudder shaft log and bearing were old and some wood was rotten. Might as well rebuild that, too.

As always, unexpected problems came up. We'd lengthened the rudder by just a couple of inches. When the time came to test fit it in the boat, it was too long! We had to dig a hole in the asphalt to make sure it fit. It did.

And because we'd torn Migration's main hull apart and rebuilt it while she was sitting on the hard for so long, her shape had changed. We found this out when we went to install the prop shaft and strut, and nothing lined up as it had before. Another project.

One of the most important jobs we had to do was change the mounts so the engine would be properly aligned with the shaft's new position. Unfortunately, the new mounts we'd put in were terrible. So we reinstalled the old ones with spacers underneath. We got a little tired of movng the engine up and down.

But we were so close to being done that we even gave the yard a tentative launch date. Then everything changed. Thank God it wasn't that cliché phone call that 'changes your life forever', but it could have been. Alene had gone to town on the motorbike to run a slew of errands. I was in the condo recuperating from a bout of bronchitis, about to head to the boat when my phone rang.

"I'm OK. But I had an accident," she said. We'll tell you about that in next month's final installment.

Next month, the end of the story.

— bruce 09/15/2015

Cruise Notes:

With El Niño gone away and La Niña coming on, NOAA says a "near-normal" hurricane season is most likely for the Eastern Pacific — meaning mostly Mexico — although there is less than a 50% chance of that being the case. Huh? It means there is a 30% chance it will be an above-average season, a 30% chance it will be a below-average season, and a 40% chance it will be normal. If you read between the lines, it means NOAA doesn't really have bloody clue what's going to happen. Hey, it's complicated!

'Near-normal' is 13 to 20 named storms, meaning winds of over 39 knots; six to 11 hurricanes, meaning winds over 74 knots; and three to six major hurricanes, which means winds over 111 knots. For the last 30 years the average has been 15 named storms, eight hurricanes, and four major hurricanes.

The 2016 Atlantic/Caribbean hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through November 30, will most likely also be "near-normal", according to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. NOAA forecasts a 70% chance of 10 to 16 named storms, which means winds of 39 knots or higher. Of these, four to eight could become hurricanes, meaning winds of over 74 knots, and one to four of them will likely be major hurricanes, which is over Category 3, which starts at 111 knots. The “near-normal” means there would be more hurricanes than in the last three years, which were below normal.

NOAA advises that the Atlantic/Caribbean has had unusually high hurricane activity since 1995. Based on a lower temperature phase of the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation, marked by warmer Atlantic Ocean temperatures and a weaker West African monsoon, we may be entering a period of 25 to 40 years of lower-than-normal hurricane activity. But speaking as someone with two boats in the Caribbean and who has had boats in the Caribbean for most of the last 30 years, we recommend not putting too much faith into such forecasts. On the positive side, a boat in the Caribbean has only a 1- or 2% chance per year of being hit. On the negative side, it only takes one to wreck your boat.

"After spending last summer in the Med, then participating in the ARC+ in the winter, we landed in the Caribbean for almost six months," report Annie Gardener and Eric Witte of the San Diego-based Catana 471 El Gato. "It feels as though we got a bonus year on our cruising plans as we never thought we’d buy a yacht in France/the Med — but we highly recommend it if you find the right boat. The dollar remains strong and the Med is special.

"Once we landed in the Caribbean, we found palm trees, turtles, and cheap rum instead of castles, exotic ports, and good cheap wine," Annie continues. "We visited 46 islands and cays between January and May — and can’t wait to go back to see more and do more charters next winter! One of our teaching charters was with Michael and Lisa Britt of San Francisco, a super nice couple who own Footloose, a near sistership to our cat that was the fourth boat to be signed up for this fall's Baja Ha-Ha. We had a blast with the Britts!

"It's been a bit of culture shock to be back in the States, to say the least. The number of boats on the Intracoastal Waterway has our heads spinning. So far the whole East Coast/USA has been almost as daunting as the Med! But things are great and we are doing all the upgrades we couldn’t do while overseas or Down Island. It's nice to have a West Marine at almost every port!

"Eric is installing new solar panels and a new alternator, and we finally have our new sails, so we are hoping the bleeding will stop soon and next winter we can play catch-up. Oh wait, we own a boat, that will never happen. LOL.

"After Maine, we plan on sailing back down to the Caribbean and chartering Down Island for another three months. We have a couple of charters lined up in the St. Barth area, so we're hoping to be able to take the Wanderer up on his invitation of a tour of the island."

Annie and Eric maintain a very well done blog at Check it out.

Jim Gregory of the Pt. Richmond-based Schumacher 50 Morpheus reports that his wife Debbie bought him a "very inexpensive, fully waterproof Splash Drone" for Christmas instead of one of the ubiquitous DJI Phantoms that dominate the consumer market. "Splash Drones have potential," says Jim, "but I've had a struggle with mine. And today I gave up because one of the engines caught fire aboard Morpheus!

"Debbie blames her purchase of a Splash Drone on reading the Wanderer's reports of repeatedly crashing his non-waterproof DJI drones into the Caribbean Sea. Although the Splash Drone didn't work out for me, I'm hooked on the drone concept. In fact, I should have driven to Athens to get some kind of replacement, but I was still mourning my lost one too much. Since the Wanderer has been through as many drones as he has, I wonder if he has any drone recommendations."

The Wanderer enthusiastically recommends any one of the four models of the DJI Phantom 3. They range in price from the Standard at $500 to the Professional at $1,000. The 'bang for the buck' you get from any of these drones is tremendous. Sort of like the difference between the Apple II and the MacBook Pro. The DJIs are so much more technically sophisticated that they probably would have prevented all but one of the Wanderer's crashes.

For the last few issues — as well as this one — we've been publishing photos from the South Pacific by John Rogers of Moonshadow. He is using the same Phantom 3 Pro that we are.

"We did have a scare at my brother’s ranch in Escondido when my drone fell 200 feet out of the sky into some brush because a propeller came off," reports Rogers. "Unlike the Phantom 2 models before it, the Phantom 3 propellers can unscrew themselves when maneuvering because the P3 has something called 'active braking', which entails the motors slowing down so fast that the props can unscrew. I haven't had a problem since I've been tightening the hell out of them."

As for the Gregorys, they are currently in Poros, Greece, and will head back through the Corinth Canal as soon as Jim can find some fuel. "We will be in Montenegro and Croatia in July and August," reports Jim, "and it looks as though we'll be sailing back to the Caribbean late this year or early in 2017."

Speaking of Montenegro and Croatia, Greg Dorland and Debbie Macrorie of the Lake Tahoe-based Catana 52 cat Escapade just had a nice sail from Brindisi, Italy, to Montenegro, where they really enjoyed the Kotor area. They are now in Croatia, and as soon as the Wanderer finishes this Changes, he, de Mallorca, and his drone are off to join Greg and Debbie.

Greg and Debbie have spent a lot of time and money to make sure they conformed with the Schengen Area's idiotic rules for US visitors by getting French Long Stay Visas. Without such a visa, Americans and all other non-Schengen citizens can only legally stay in Schengen Area countries — virtually all of the European Union countries — for 90 days before they have to leave for 90 days. It's ridiculous.

But is the law enforced? The Wanderer and de Mallorca have spent most of the month of June aboard Majestic Dalat at the Arsenal Marina in Paris, where we've heard different reports. One boatowner from Tampa says he's stayed on his canal boat in France four months a year for the last nine years, and never had any official give him trouble for overstaying his visa for a month.

"I've never had trouble flying out of Charles de Gaulle or Milan, but I wouldn't try to fly out of Germany or Austria where officials follow the rules," he said.

This individual is also not the only one who has told us that he doesn't have either an International Certificate of Competency or a CENVI inland waterway license, both of which are supposedly required. The Wanderer and de Mallorca have both these licenses, but nobody has ever asked to see them.

By the way, yes, we were aboard Majestic Dalat at the Arsenal Marina for the fifth-highest floodwater levels of the Seine River in recorded history. Thanks to the floating docks, our boat never had any trouble. The great marina staff built bridges from the floating docks to the 48-step stairways to the roadway above, so that solved the problem. The Wanderer can say one thing with certainty: If you have to be trapped on your boat for a couple of weeks, there is no better city to be trapped in than Paris.

Ronnie Simpson, who often writes for Latitude, reports that he has just sold the Cal 29 Loophole that he's owned for all of 15 months. He'd bought the boat as a cheap place to live in the Bay Area following a one-year sail across the Pacific to New Zealand. It never occurred to him that he might re-fit the boat and singlehand her across the Pacific, too, starting with "an ill-advised December passage". But he did. Not only that, a photo of him and his boat appeared on the cover of Cruising World magazine.

Not a month after Ronnie arrived back in Hawaii to pursue his education, he met and fell for lovely Kristen Kelly. Within four months they became engaged. "Changes in life plans meant that it was time for Loophole, a single man's boat, to go," says Ronnie. "Kristen and I now have babies and a 40-ft cruising cat on our radar."

What happens if you're caught having not declared all the weapons on your boat in the Bahamas? In early June an unidentified American captain and his passenger on a US-registered center-cockpit Irwin 38 found out, as they were apprehended after their boat was searched by members of the Royal Bahamas Defense Force. It happened at Great Guana Cay, Abaco. Defense team members discovered one .25 millimeter pistol and one .9 millimeter pistol, when only one pistol had been declared. The captain was fined $10,000, the weapons and ammunition confiscated, and the captain and crew were handed over to the police and Bahamas customs "for further processing". That's a pretty vague phrase, but you know it can't be good.

It's not often you get to see a clear video of a sailboat that had only recently gone to the bottom with her sails up, but that's what you'll get if you go to

The boat is Bob Hagner's Honolulu-based Serenity, a wood ketch with tanbark sails that looks to be about 38 feet. She sank on May 23 while sailing not far off the coast of Fiji. She came to rest almost upright on the bottom, 90 feet below the surface. Based on the video, the cause of the sinking was a sprung plank or two. The interesting video was taken when Paul Brown and Scott Hruska dove on the boat to assess the possibility of recovering her.

Hagner, who is said to be "a bit of a legend around Fiji", is reported to be in good spirits and determined to raise his yacht. Serenity had developed a serious leak once before, but Bob had managed to sail her right into the haulout ways at the Vuda Point Marina, despite water up to the cockpit sole. We wish Hagner and his helping friends luck, but he'll be an even bigger legend if he manages to salvage Serenity.

"I'm speechless, just speechless after one of our most amazing experiences of our entire cruise," reports Heather Tzortzis of the San Francisco-based Lagoon 470 Family Circus. "My husband Chris and the kids and I watched the land diving at Londot village on South Pentecost Island, Vanuatu. Using branches, the men build these crazy towers of between 70 and 100 feet high, then jump off them, with only vine ropes tied to their ankles to stop their fall. The courage and bravado of the men is mind-blowing. After the ceremony they let our son Tristan climb the tower. Women are not allowed near it.

"After the land diving ceremony, Chris met the chiefs, jumpers, and some of the men from the village for kava. I went back to the boat and made a short video of the ceremony. I then took the projector, screen and speakers to the kava bar and played the video. The locals had never seen any photos or video of themselves jumping. They were so excited they wanted to see it over and over.

"Then we showed them our other videos of Vanuatu, because many of them had not been off their island. They loved the volcano videos of Tanna. Next we showed them our videos from Mexico, and they couldn't imagine a land without trees. They just giggled when we played the video of the Tahitian dancing. There was a huge turnout, with villagers watching from every nook and cranny. Thank you to Jim and Kent Milski of the Schionning 49 Sea Level for the great idea of bringing a projector with us."

As you might expect, the orgins of land diving, the precursor to bungee jumping, have a lot to do with sex. According to legend in Vanuatu, a local woman was upset because her husband had sexual needs that were in excess of hers, so she ran into the forest and climbed a banyan tree. When the man started climbing the tree after her, she tied vines to her ankles and jumped, surviving because the vines arrested her fall. Her husband jumped after her, but because he was as dumb as any white male on a situation comedy, he hadn't tied any vines to his ankles. The horny dummy killed himself. After that, the local men wised up and started land diving to make sure no clever woman would ever pull that trick on one of them again. A good land dive supposedly also ensures a bountiful yam harvest.

By the way, the Tzortzis family is nearing the end of their two-year cruise, and have put their boat up for sale. Family Circus has proven to be a fine cruising boat for a big family of adventurers.

The first trial run of a Post-Panamax cargo ship through the new locks on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal was conducted on June 9. Panama completed the $5.3 billion dollar canal expansion that has involved a new set of much wider and deeper locks on both the Atlantic and Pacific sides of the canal. In addition, new dredging is expected to allow for a second lane of traffic. The combination of the new locks and dredging will double the capacity of the Canal. The old locks are 1,050 feet long and 110 feet wide. The new locks are 1,400 feet long and 141 feet wide. Assuming that the trial runs went well, the new locks should have opened to commercial use on June 27.

As for the controversial Nicaraguan Canal that would offer shorter passages to many destinations than the Panama Canal — and thus might crater Panama's economy — "major work" such as dredging is supposed to begin after a wharf on the Pacific Ocean side is completed. Construction on the wharf is not expected to start until after August this year.

There are three reasons that some experts believe this canal will never be built. First, many Nicaraguans are against it, particularly those who will be displaced from their homes. 2) Conservationists are almost universally against it. 3) The biggest obstacle is money. The private project is to be done by the Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Company that is headed by Chinese billionaire Wang Jing. But Wang Jing took a big hit in the recent downturn of the Chinese stock market, so it's likely the project will be delayed if not scrapped.

It's not often that a boat suffers a cracked base on a winch halyard. But that was only half the problem for Barry Stompe and Sylvia Stewart Stompe, who were about to depart Hanalei Bay for Vancouver on their Sausalito-based Hughes 48 Iolani. Only half the problem because not only did the base crack on the main halyard winch, but it cracked on the jib halyard winch, too. That's right up there with lightning striking the same place twice in a short period of time. Since they couldn't get winch bases anytime soon, they went back to hanging out in tropical pools gearing up to sail to the Pacific Northwest using sheet stoppers instead of winches on the halyards. Reefing the main could be a lot of fun.

Among the group of sailors who were based in La Paz for many years but have finally made the Puddle Jump to French Polynesia are Shelly Rothery Ward, longtime stalwart of the La Paz cruising community and Commodore of the Cruising Club of La Paz, and her partner Mike Rickman on the Peterson 44 Nirvana.

"We've gone native by getting tattoos!" Shelly joked after they got to the Marquesas. "Some of our friends will be, "OMG!", but before we left Mexico we decided that we wanted to get something to commemorate our passage and our time in these islands. Our tats are traditional. We told the artist our story and he put it into pictures.

"My tattoo is around my ankle like a bracelet. The front represents my grandmother and me; the outside is the pollywog crossing the equator and becoming a shellback in a new life. The inside dolphin represents protection of the ocean and shows the sea, birds, sun and even fishes. I love it! Mike got really brave and had a big shellback turtle put on his chest, and then a dolphin and manta ray on his calf, with one side of the leg being the eyes of protection, and the other side representing our voyage across the sea. As Jimmy Buffett sang, our tats are "a permanent reminder of a temporary situation".

Another longtime boat resident of La Paz who Puddle Jumped this spring is Patsy 'La Reina del Mar' Verhoeven of the Gulfstar 50 Talion.

"French Polynesia is tremendous, but awfully hot and humid," she reports. "It has rained almost every day for the six weeks that I've been here, so I've been kept busy making temporary rain structures over the deck and rebedding anything that looks questionable. Despite that, I’ve enjoyed some incredible bike rides, snorkel trips, and lots of sailing. These have easily made up for the puddles on the inside of the boat. Since leaving La Paz, I've had 10 friends stay with me and will have another 10+ before I leave for Hawaii in mid-July. Sometimes one group leaves and the next group shows up that same day. It's a little exhausting sometimes, but so much fun to have good friends come from so far."

Patsy intends to complete her South Pacific/Hawaii/California loop by September, in plenty of time for late-October's Baja Ha-Ha, which should be her 10th.

If you're thinking about sailing around the world but have doubts or questions, Capt Charie Simon and his wife Cathy Simon's just released book might be what you're looking for. Quickstart Circumnavigation Guide: Proven Route and Sailing Itinerary Time for Weather is a 172-page book with 154 color photos, 18 maps, and 49 satellite /aerial diagrams. The book is based on the couple's having doublehanded the 2014 World ARC with their Taswell 58 Celebration. As the Simons write, although there are a limitless number of possible routes, most circumnavigators follow the basic one outlined in the book. The couple tell you what to expect. The $39.95 hardback version and $9.95 e-book version are available at Amazon or

"We just finished a smooth 900-mile delivery from St. Martin to Bermuda on our way to Newport, Rhode Island, and the East Coast," reports Greg Slyngstad of the Seattle-based Bieker catamaran Fujin. "We made the passage in just under four days. We did 295 miles in the first 24 hours, but then the wind died below 10 knots for two days."

Slyngstad and Fujin will be returning to the Caribbean in the winter for a season of racing his very fast cruising cat, after which he's trying to decide whether to head to the Med or the West Coast. So many choices out there.

Missing the pictures? See the July 2016 eBook!


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